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The controversial IVF technique aims to stop mitochondrial defects from being passed on (ABC News/Jessica van Vonderen)

Catholic ethicists greeted the news that the first baby has been born in the United Kingdom after being conceived via a “three-parent” embryo modification technique with caution and strong criticism. Source: NCR Register.

Though these experts welcomed the birth of the baby, they warned that the new technique destroys other newly conceived embryos in the process of inserting healthy genetic material to address a genetic flaw in a mother’s eggs.

“This is the destruction of two embryonic human individuals to create a third individual,” the Anscombe Bioethics Centre said last week. “This is primarily unethical due to the destruction of two unique innocent human beings, who had inherent dignity and rights.”

The Oxford-based Catholic bioethics research centre challenged the technique on other grounds, including the “fracturing of biological parenthood” and the potential for “serious unintended consequences”.

The UK’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) disclosed to The Guardian that, as of late April, “less than five” babies had been born after being conceived through the new technique. This involves the in vitro fertilisation of several embryos and their modification through a process called mitochondrial donation treatment or mitochondrial replacement therapy.

The process aims to eliminate mitochondrial disease, in which a woman’s eggs have faulty mitochondria, which can lead to brain damage, muscle wasting, heart failure and blindness.

Though the child resulting from this technique is sometimes called a “three-parent baby,” more than 99.8 per cent of the genetic material comes from the baby’s mother and father, and the rest from an egg donor’s mitochondria, according to The Guardian.

“Human life is treated as a commodity, with only the ‘unflawed’ human beings allowed to live,” Marie Hilliard, a senior fellow at the United States-based National Catholic Bioethics Centre said. “Numerous embryos are engendered and only the desired embryos given the sustenance of the womb, befitting of our human dignity and enabling life to flourish.”


Catholic Bioethicists Warn: UK Birth of ‘Three-Parent Baby’ Comes at High Moral Cost (By Kevin J Jones, CNA via NCR Register)